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Islamism as such might as well not exist — except inside his Administration.
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A further appointee is Mohamed Elibiary, who in October 2010 was elevated by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to the Homeland Security Advisory Council. Elibiary has spoken in praise of Ayatollah Khomeini, founder of the Islamist Iranian republic, and is believed to have leaked sensitive intelligence documents.
The Obama State Department has also permitted Islamists to speak abroad on behalf of the U.S. and to participate in government outreach programs. In February 2010, it sent MPAC’s Salam Al-Marayati to address UNESCO in Paris and the U.S. mission to the United Nations in Geneva. This month, Marayati served as a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.S. to a human rights conference held by the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. On any reasonable accounting, Marayati’s record should have disqualified him from such appointments and, indeed, as far back as 1999, revelations regarding his record to that date did indeed do just that when his appointment to a congressional panel on terrorism was rescinded. Someone who has condemned as “illegal, immoral and illogical” the U.S. strikes against al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Sudan following the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; and who, following September 11, 2001 attacks, declared that Israel, whose creation he had described in 1993 as an “injustice” which he vowed to “work to overturn,” should be “put… on the suspect list” of possible 9/11 perpetrators, should never have been considered for, much less awarded, these appointments.
Marayati’s appointment is not exceptional. In August 2010, the Administration sent Faisal Rauf, the would-be 9/11 mosque imam, on a nearly month-long speaking tour of Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Rauf has a wealth of Islamist associations, has refused to condemn Hamas and blamed America as an “accessory” for 9/11 and other acts of Islamist terror. Contrary to State Department assertions that it did not “expect” Rauf to fund-raise for his proposed mosque while abroad, Rauf indicated that he would be collecting money from Muslim and Arab nations on his trip. Tellingly, the State Department released few details of his trip and speaking engagements, despite requests from journalists.
Kifah Mustafa is another Islamist who was permitted to participate in a government outreach program, the FBI Citizen Academy. Here, too, a clear record of extremism should have precluded his participation: Mustapha had already been in 2007 and 2008 as an un-indicted coconspirator as a registered agent for Holy Land Foundation, a Hamas fund-raising front closed by the Bush administration after “the largest terrorism financing prosecution in American history.” Evidence produced in court showed Mustapha to have participated in a fundraising troupe singing “‘I am a member of Hamas’ as well as other songs glorifying violence and inciting the murder of Jews.” FBI director Robert Mueller subsequently declined to explain Mustafa’s participation, which included a tour of the top-secret National Counterterrorism Center, FBI headquarters in Washington D.C., and the FBI training academy at Quantico.
Outreach has also involved legitimizing Islamists abroad. In November 2010, the U.S. Ambassador to Britain, Louis B. Susman, paid a visit to the East London mosque, a hotbed of Islamism controlled by the Jammat-e-Islami group, whose program proclaims the goal of Islamizing the United Kingdom. The mosque’s website quoted Ambassador Susman declaring his “great admiration” for the mosque and President Obama’s desire to “to reach out to Muslim communities.” This visit proceeded despite the East London mosque being embroiled in controversy in Britain at that very moment over its support for al Qaida in Yemen leader Awlaki.
In short, the Administration has sought to embrace Islamists at home and abroad and a clear, public record of extremism has not impeded the rise within the Obama Administration of a number of Islamist and pro-Islamist figures. This did not happen overnight; a congenial environment in the Washington policy world merely laid the groundwork for their flourishing in the Obama Administration. For example, Rauf and Mogahed served on the Leadership Group on U.S.-Muslim Engagement, which in September 2008 issued a report, ‘Changing Course: A New Direction for U.S. Relations With the Muslim World,’ urging the U.S. Government to engage Islamist groups in the Middle East, especially the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This is, of course, precisely what Obama has done since arriving in office. More recently, indeed, up to the moment of writing, his Administration has approved the transfer of weaponry by Saudi Arabia and Qatar to Muslim Brotherhood forces fighting the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad — precisely the sort of forces likely to carry out bloodbaths of their own upon victory and least likely to ensure a stable, pro-Western orientation in the future.
Other have written of the political consequences of Obama’s policy to engage the Muslim world by pretending that there is no conflict with it, and that Islamists, if they are only non-violent, can be wooed into accommodation with U.S. and pose no threat to the interests of America or its allies. But a short summary is possible: the result has been a weak, temporizing approach to depredations of radical Middle East regimes (Iran, Syria); engaging Islamists & encouraging the replacement of pro-American regimes (Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen); ignoring the hostility of regimes in formerly pro-American states (Turkey); and pressuring Israel for unilateral concessions and straining U.S.-Israeli relations, while indulging an intransigent Palestinian Authority.
At the end of four years, dangerous and hostile governments endure in Tehran and Damascus, despite their deep unpopularity. Islamist regimes rule in Cairo and Tunis and may yet do so in Damascus and Sana’a if the U.S. continues backing the Muslim Brotherhood. Palestinians remain undeviating in their non-acceptance of Israel. The Middle East map has changed, not for the better, and picking up the pieces will be the unavoidable and unenviable task of Barack Obama’s successor — whoever and whenever that may be.
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